More than half the residents surveyed in three major Chinese cities chose Hong Kong as their favorite tourist destination this year, especially for the upcoming Spring Festival. Their average budget for the trip was about 8,000 yuan (US$965) per person, according to CANielsen.
The research company surveyed more than 3,000 people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in November by telephone.
Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand were listed as the top choices among their travel intentions for 2004.
Nearly 50 percent of those in Shanghai surveyed chose Hong Kong while up to 70 percent in Guangzhou were in favor of the nearby shopping haven.
Most planned to travel during January and February.
"The survey results are encouraging for Hong Kong's retail and catering sector," said Glen Murphy, ACNielsen China's managing director.
"It is a custom that Chinese people go on a shopping spree to celebrate the traditional festival. Hong Kong is eying this huge financial benefit."
Clothing, cosmetics, audio and video products, and jewelry were listed as the goods people would most likely buy, the survey showed.
Murphy added Hong Kong's popularity benefited from a relaxation in individual travel policies.
Since July, individuals in Beijing, Shanghai and parts of Guangdong Province can apply for a travel certificate for Hong Kong. Previously, only travel agencies could apply on behalf of their clients.
In preparation, Hong Kong has various events planned in January and February for the city.
The Hong Kong Fashion Week and Hong Kong Arts Festival are being held during the period.
However, some visitors complained of their trip after returning home.
"The city is crowded with shoppers. It is annoying to do shopping with so many people," said Luo Wei who had a three-day trip to Hong Kong last month. "Besides, the price is not so competitive as we expected and nearly all the products are also available in Shanghai."
(Shanghai Daily January 16, 2004)